What is the root of poverty? The Atheistic and Materialistic West argues that the only reality is the material and physical. Thus the root of poverty is the lack of resources. They argue, as we have discussed in other blogs, from a closed system mindset. Resources are in the ground and they are limited. More and more people –mouths to be fed, leave fewer and fewer resources to distribute. This paradigm has two solutions to poverty. The first is the socialist/communist redistribution of resources. The second is proactive eugenics–eliminating children, especially children of the poor and people of color.
As I began traveling with the NGO that I worked for over 27 years, I noticed that some people living in a material paradise were economically poor. Other people, living in countries with few resources and high population densities, were wealthy. I began to question the socialist, redistributionist assumptions that had dominated my thinking for so many years. I remembered Francis Schaeffer, of L’Abri Fellowship, saying that if you want to understand the difference between North America and South America, look at the ideas that came from northern Europe to North America and from southern Europe to South America. I began to pursue this stream of thought, i.e. that ideas have an impact on the wealth and poverty of nations. Little had been written from this perspective: those concerned about helping the poor were working and writing from a redistributionist model.
One of the early books I read had nothing (yet everything) to do with economics. It was written by Abraham Kuyper, a pastor, theologian, and educator. Kuyper was also a politician: a member of the Dutch parliament and eventually Prime Minister of Holland. He was witnessing the impact of the Atheist paradigm and Darwinian science as it swept though Europe. European nations and culture were being severed from their theological foundations. When a tree is cut from its roots, the tree dies. One hundred years later we are witnessing the death of European culture and the national identities formed by that culture.
As Kuyper saw these same ideas – grounded in the Atheistic/Materialistic worldview – begin to move across the Atlantic into the universities and seminaries of America, he decided to take the battle for the soul of America to Princeton Seminary, the country’s elite seminary. Kuyper spoke as part of Princeton’s famous Stone Lecture series on Christianity as a life system. The worldview of Atheism and it’s accompanying Darwinian science needed to be challenged by the comprehensive worldview of the Bible. Without a Biblical foundation, America, as America would die.
As I read Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, I kept thinking, This is about development! Worldview and metaphysical capital have more to do with a nation’s wealth or poverty than material capital. This and a few other books I read in the early 1980’s began my lifelong journey of exploring and addressing the nexus of worldview and development. Kuyper highlighted the role played by John Calvin, the reformer in Geneva, in shaping Europe, England, and North America. Calvin was a pastor who wanted to see society transformed. He understood that the key to this transformation was a Biblical worldview and principles. His legacy spread through northern Europe to the Puritans of Scotland and England and through the Puritans to the founders of the United States.
Enjoy and be challenged by Kuyper’s first Stone Lecture.
– Darrow Miller